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health, alleging that getting wet never did him any harm, and that he experienced no inconvenience from either wet or cold: he however lived to alter his opinion, and to bitterly regret his imprudence, as he was a martyr to rheumatism; whereas I have completely and entirely escaped all similar consequences. I have, however, been constantly wet through snipe shooting, in fact, soaked, as I had frequently the best sport in wet weather, but I never experienced inconvenience, or caught cold, during eight seasons of regular shooting in the marais. This I attribute to the use of the large boots, and other equally salutary precautions; I always wore flannel and warm clothing. My practice was to remain in the marais as long as I could get shots, and get my gun off, and when obliged to discontinue, proceed homewards as fast as possible, remove my wet clothes, put on dry ones, and generally immerse my feet in moderately warm water. It is hazardous to remain stationary when you are wet, a severe cold and illness may be the consequence; so long as you continue moving, and keep your blood in active circulation, the perspiration is not checked, and no risk is incurred.
The advantage of the large boots and the thick stockings, even should you chance to get thoroughly wet, by sinking over the tops of the former, is to be found in their retaining a certain
degree of heat sufficient to keep your feet quite warm, so long as you continue in motion. Of course after an accident of this kind you must take your boots off, empty the water out, and after having squeezed as much water as you possibly can out of your stockings, replace your boots; you may feel cold for a minute or two, but a little movement will soon restore circulation, and your feet will become perfectly warm, the heat being retained by the thickness of the leather. In the constant transition from the warm, stagnant water of certain parts of the marais, to the cold, chilling spring-water, which you encounter in all directions, the circulation of the blood would be perpetually in danger of being interfered with and suddenly checked, if your feet were not protected by strong, thick boots. Having once or twice experienced the bad and disagreeable effects of spring-water, when I have been accidentally exposed to it, under such circumstances, by not having had my large boots on, I can speak advisedly on the subject, and therefore recommend most strongly all snipe shooters to be well provided with at least two pairs of large boots, and a good supply of the best and thickest woollen stockings. With regard to the 'marais' in France, all which are Men communal, viz. those on which the poor have rights of pasturage, and from which they can extract peat, are accessible to the sportsman on his getting permission from one inhabitant. A marais cannot be closed except by the unanimous consent of the commune, and this is sometimes done, for the purpose of letting the same for the benefit of the commune. Of course a porte d'arme is necessary, as without it you are liable to an expensive legal process, styled Proces Verbal, which any garde-champetre (and there is one in every village) or gendarme, can institute against you, should he be disposed so to do, on finding you shooting without this protection.
A marais is open at all seasons of the year, and the right of access to it, for snipe shooting, is neither influenced by Vouverture, nor interfered with by la cloture de la chasse. You must, however, be very cautious what lands you cross in going to, and returning from, the marais, either before the chasse is opened, or after it is closed; for were you carelessly crossing a field which was not marsh land, and not bien communal, and allowing your dogs to beat it, although it was next to impossible that a head of game could be found on it, you would, nevertheless, be liable to a proces verbal, should the garde meet with you at that moment, and declare proces verbal against you. This once occurred to me; the gardechampitre having lain in wait purposely to have the opportunity of declaring his proces, whereby he gained five francs for himself, although he knew well enough that virtually I had no intention of violating the law. I merely crossed one field between the marais and the road — and this field was as bare as the road—but as my dogs were not at heel, he swore, on making his proces, that he found me ien chasse sur la plaine,' and as this was after the cloture of the chasse, I was fined about sixty francs, with forfeiture of my gun. Having violated the letter of the law, you are not obliged to give up the identical gun with which you were shooting, but one as nearly like it as possible, and this can be purchased for about twenty francs.
The armourier, i.e. gunsmith, of the locality has generally a stock on hand of these substitutes, to meet the demands of the numerous fines inflicted, as no penalty is ever pronounced for delit de chasse without its including the sacrifice of the gun. If therefore your gun be a double copper cap, then the substitute must be one also; and as for the locks, as the armourier said, 'pourvu que cela marche, voila tout.1 The garde de chasse, in my case, perjured himself; but as this worthy functionary is always believed by the Procureur du Eoi, and the letter of the law is invariably applied in these cases, no explanation you can afford is ever of any avail.
To procure a porte d'arme, you must, in the first instance, obtain the permission of two landed proprietors, in writing, to shoot over their land, and deposit this written document, with fifteen francs,* at the Mairie, i.e. Maison de Ville, or Town-hall. Afterwards, it is merely necessary to deposit the old porte d'arme and your money at the Maine, to obtain a renewal; and this you had better do in the summer months, as partes djarme are only issued from one town in each department, and there is sometimes a very great delay in responding to the application, so that if your demand had been sent in only a short time before the opening of the chasse, you might be disappointed, as was constantly the case during the time I was in France.
I mention this because, although you might have paid the money, and subscribed to all necessary formalities, you could not safely venture out with your gun until your porte d'arme arrived, as you are bound to produce it for the inspection of'every gendarme and garde-champetre who may request to see it; and as an explanation, in the absence of it, would not satisfy the above functionaries, a declaration of proces verbal would be the immediate consequence, besides an order to you to desist from shooting—and I believe a gendarme might seize your gun if he pleased. The gardechampetre, under all emergencies, is, however, easily appeased, a, piece de quarante sous, in ordi
* I believe this amount is now increased to twenty-five francs.